Dark, macabre, and absolutely brilliant.

The detective from Puppet Show: Mystery of Joyville is back to investigate more puppet-themed wrongdoing in the sequel, Puppet Show: Souls of the Innocent. This time, the people of a small town are falling into deep sleeps, and the only clue to their ailment are creepy spider puppets that are all too familiar. You soon discover that the heartless Felicia, who escaped your grasp in Joyville, is stealing people’s souls for her own nefarious needs.

 Souls of the Innocent

Like its predecessor, Souls of the Innocent combines hidden object sequences with adventure game-style puzzle solving and item collection. You’ll search first the town, then a nearby castle for clues as to Felicia’s scheme as well as the necessary tools to stop her. Each location – and indeed everything in the game – is exquisitely drawn in lush colors and marvelous detail. The town feels genuinely lived in, the castle truly decrepit and abandoned. Areas that require your attention are highlighted with a sparkle, though you can opt to turn that off if you’d like a bit more of a challenge.

Souls of the Innocent plays it pretty straight when it comes to the item searches, providing you with a shopping list of objects that need to be found in a given location. The game still cheats a bit when it comes to the hidden object sequences by requiring you to find multiples of objects, such as three butterflies, two beads, or four bottles, but the visuals are so lovely it’s hard to complain all that much. You’ll revisit most locations at least once, and usually come away from a search with an item you’ll need to solve one of the game’s many puzzles. Their use isn’t always immediately obvious, so as they say in adventure game circles, be sure to try everything.

 Souls of the Innocent

In addition to figuring out environmental puzzles like how to fix the hot air balloon or lift the bridge, you’ll also have to test your mental mettle against more classic puzzles like sliding tiles and magic squares. They’re skippable after a short wait, but they’re also particularly well crafted and refreshingly creative. If you’ve ever found yourself weary of assembling yet another jigsaw in a hidden object game, you will be thrilled to embrace the brain teasers in Souls of the Innocent.

If you played Mystery of Joyville, then you know to expect a similar tone from Souls of the Innocent, but if you’re new to the ways of the puppetmaster, fair warning: This is a dark and macabre tale. It’s not gruesome or gory, but if you’re looking for a more lighthearted outing, this isn’t the place for you. If you like a good campfire ghost story, however, you’re sure to enjoy Felicia’s twisted nature. There isn’t a great deal of story to be had – you spend most of your time just figuring out how to get certain doors or drawers open – but what little there is will keep you playing to find out what happens next.

Puppet Show: Souls of the Innocent is as dark and beautiful as Mystery of Joyville was, and about as good as hidden objects get. Its scenery is stunning, and while there is perhaps a bit too much backtracking, its puzzles are top-notch, satisfying, and clever. The solutions to the puzzles aren’t always as intuitive as they could be, but so long as you just look everywhere (which you’re going to want to do anyway because the game is so gorgeous) and try everything, the moments of confusion should be brief. It’s a masterful showing and an absolute must-play for anyone who likes their villains good and creepy.